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Results of RT-PCR tests should be sent to patients immediately through WhatsApp: Bombay High Court to medical labs

The Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the medical laboratories conducting RT-PCR tests for COVID detection to ensure that test results of patients are immediately sent to the concerned patient on WhatsApp irrespective of the result.

It was pointed out to a Bench of Justices ZA Haq and Amit B Borkar that patients were facing difficulties in getting the reports of RT-PCR test.

The delay in submitting the reports to the patients was attributed to the delay in uploading the reports on the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) portal due to slow server.

Advocate SP Bhandarkar, Amicus Curiae in the case, suggested that the reports of the patients, whether positive or negative, could be immediately sent to patients on WhatsApp without requiring them to be uploaded on the ICMR portal first.

The Court directed that after making the reports available to the patients on WhatsApp, the positive reports of the patients shall be uploaded on the ICMR portal within 24 hours.

The reports of the patients who test negative should be uploaded on the ICMR portal within 7 days, the Court added.

The Court warned that if these directions are not complied with by the laboratories, the authorities will be free to take appropriate action against the concerned laboratories.

The Bench was hearing a suo motu PIL on various issues concerning COVID-19 management in the city of Nagpur and cities falling within the territorial jurisdiction of the bench.

The Bench has been actively monitoring COVID facilities available in cities like Mumbai to give suggestions to the State government and local authorities to better manage the pandemic.

The suo motu case was registered last year and benches hearing the PIL so far dealt with the following issues related to COVID.

  • Dealing with patients who test COVID-19 positive,
  • BVG ambulances,
  • Over-stocking of oxygen in certain hospitals leading to deficits elsewhere,
  • Allotment of beds to patients,
  • Availability of life-saving drugs,
  • Dearth of medical staff,
  • Costs involved for the medical facilities,
  • Safety of the patients and the staff attending to them at the institutional quarantine centres, and
  • Availability of RT-PCR reports

The Court in the past week also considered the issue of non-availability of Remdesivir and Tocilizumab injections which is used in the treatment of COVID positive patients as also dearth of oxygen cylinders.

The Bench had suggested creating a centralized portal which would provide details of the patient as also the number of doses of specific medicines given to the patients for quick access of information. The Collector of Nagpur informed the Court that such a portal would be started immediately and widely publicised.

The Court was also apprised by Bhandarkar about reports of vandalism at hospitals where some patients died. Deployment of force and 24/7 patrolling was directed by the Court to tackle this issue.

The Court also requested the media and press to show restraint while highlighting unfortunate incidents in the quarantine centres as that could lead to unnecessary panic among citizens aggravating the situation.

The Bench had earlier constituted a COVID-19 committee to deliberate over the situation of emergency arising out of the explosion of COVID-19 pandemic at Nagpur.

The Committee made certain suggestions which the Court, in its order passed on April 8, asked the authorities to deliberate over.

In the meantime, concerned over the safety of the patients and the staff attending the patients at institutional quarantine, the Bench directed the committee to come up with measures for regular inspection of all institutional quarantine.

They also directed that CCTV cameras be installed in corridors of all institutional quarantine centres to check movements of quarantined patients.


Via Bar & Bench
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